By Karen D. Lorentz
Killington’s new Snowshed Adventure Center, which opened on June 26, offers an awesome assortment of chills, thrills, and spills for the adventurous who enjoy a challenge.
For thrills, there’s the Skyeride which ascends to a 200-foot tall tower and the sky-high ropes course.
For a thrill with a chill, the ATV climb to Pico takes you up to a cool 3,800-foot elevation.
As for tame spills, there’s the sluice where water spills down a wooden trough to the delight of those who want to mine for gems.
Then there’s mountain biking where trails invite tumbles for aggressive downhill speeders — protective gear advised!
For kids — and those who want to experience the delights of being a kid again — challenge a friend to the Terra Maze and race through the twists and turns.
The activities offer fun for all ages, whether for a full day or shorter visit.
On opening day, 11-year-old Sarah Bona of Randolph, N.J., told me that the Skyeride “was cool and scary at the same time. The view is pretty, too,” she said before taking another ride, this time with me. She was joined by her sister Lindsey, age 8, and mom Jennifer, all agreed that the most scary part was riding backwards at 28 mph! (For me, coming in for a landing at 30 mph was the big “wow!”)
If concerned about a timid child or adult, you could tell them the Skyeride slows as you approach the top and encourage them to look out rather than down. Whizzing by the trees was exhilarating fun but coming in to the platform was like being in a plane that lands on an aircraft carrier — unbelievable excitement as you ‘slingshot’ to a standstill. Watching others come in could reassure a timid soul.
Doing the Terra Maze with the Bona family was great fun, and I can’t wait to take my grandkids. I was the slowest and kept finding the exit before finding the letters that make up the word MAZE — I made it out in 14 minutes the kids did it in just nine.
TIP: There’s a viewing station by the maze entrance. You could go up and look it over, although Rich McCoy of Killington Resort says there’s no way someone could memorize it.
Up on the Skye Ropes Course above the maze, one young girl could only go two or three steps before backing out. Others made it to the top level.
Course attendant Dave Kims thinks the second level (there are three levels) is the hardest, saying it the “most challenging for me.” The attendants trained for over six hours and even practiced rescues, a process that requires a skillful belay. If anyone freezes from fear on any level, certified attendants know how to get them safely down.
TIP: You don’t have to go to the top level. This is a challenge for testing daring and balance skills. A safety harness will limit any spill and participants can go at their own pace.
A ride up Pico in a Polaris Razor ATV with tour guide Will Prater proved exciting, educational fun. Chip Soltner of Atco, N.J., noted being on the tour was “something we can do as a family.”
A quick introduction on the Ramshead Lot was followed by a thrilling ride up a rocky work road on Header to Swinger and over to the Alpine Pipeline trail up to Pico’s shoulder. Negotiating rocky terrain and a plethora of water bars — some were huge ditches filled with water — was an education in what special tires on a four-wheel-drive vehicle can do. Cut in 1997 to accommodate a sewer pipeline, the trail was made wide enough to someday accommodate a ski trail in the proposed Interconnect.
It was a thrill to see the terrain between Killington and Pico up close, and the views were awesome!
We turned around just short of Pico’s Summit Glades Trail (Pico’s most eastern ski trail) and paused to take photos of views to Mount Ascutney and New Hampshire mountain ranges. The ride down offered tremendous views of Killington Peak, trails, and the village below.
Other highlights, included meeting up with Chris Carter, who had taught me to drive a Segway several years ago. I didn’t have time to do this again, but highly recommend it to all. He’s an expert trainer and learning to drive a Segway is pure fun.
Good to know:
The mountain bike center at Snowshed offers rentals, including new Scott Gamblers and Voltage models, kids Kona Stinky 24 models, and Kona adult Operators. Lessons, guided tours, and special bike packages are available.
Snowshed has four beginner bike trails to introduce first-timers to mountain biking and a jump trail is under construction.
Some activities have height requirements, weight limits, or age minimums. Check www.killington.com for details or for a “celebration package” that includes a free night and Adventure Center pass savings.
ATV tours are available Fridays through Mondays but reservations are needed for Tuesdays through Thursdays (422-2121 or at www.ATVvermont.com).
Attractions are offered on a Day Pass or an a-la-carte basis. The Day Pass ($39 for ages 7+; $15 for 6 and under) includes 3 Skyerides, Skye Ropes Course, Terra Maze, and a round of disk golf with a Snowshed lift ride.
Season passes are available for disk golf, mountain biking, golf course, and K-1 Gondola.
The Snowshed Food Court, Peak Lodge, and the new Snowshed Patio offer eats and libations.
K-1 Gondola and Snowshed Quad operate daily for sightseeing and mountain biking.
Fishing, kayaking, and stand-up-paddle boarding are available on Snowshed Pond.
The new custom designed Beast Mountain Coaster is scheduled to open in late July.
Photo One: Jim Blount demonstrates “no-hands” on the Skye Ropes course.
Photo Two: Chip Soltner rides an ATV with his son Austin.
Photo Three: The Mountain Coaster, Coming Soon